A BURGLAR produced a meat cleaver he named “Ted” in an effort to recoup a £20 debt from a teenager.

The 17-year-old boy was so terrified by thief Jason Scarff that he fled inside a neighbour’s flat. It was only later that he realised the Melksham man had gone into his unlocked apartment and taken a TV, cream dispenser and watch.

At the time of the raid, 31-year-old Scarff was on bail or under investigation for a non-dwelling burglary committed a year earlier – and subject to a 20 month suspended prison sentence imposed just months earlier for aggravated vehicle taking and dangerous driving.

The third-strike burglar was jailed for four years and three months at Swindon Crown Court on Friday after earlier admitting domestic burglary, possession of a bladed article, non-dwelling burglary and breaching his suspended sentence order.

Prosecutor Alex Daymond told the court Scarff had gone to his teen victim’s Kilmington home on September 19, 2020, where the boy was with his younger girlfriend.

The man was owed money – either £20 or £60 - by the teen, as he had ferried his girlfriend to the apartment.

Seeing Scarff, the boy fled to a neighbour’s flat and tried to explain the difficulty he was in.  

The older man stormed into the building with a woman. He was said to have pushed the teen against the wall and threatened to get his friend “Ted”.

Ted, it transpired, was a meat cleaver that was produced and shown to the boy. Mr Daymond said: “The victim says that he feared – perhaps understandably – for his life at that point and went into the neighbour’s flat and shut the door leaving, it seems, his own flat upstairs unlocked.”

Scarff stole a TV, cream dispenser and watch from the flat. The following day, police picked him up in Chippenham and found the meat cleaver in his car.

At the time, he was the main suspect in an investigation into a break-in at a house in Oxford Road, Calne. Builders renovating the house arrived at the property on July 28, 2019, to find a window had been smashed and £1,700-worth of power tools were missing. Scarff was identified as a suspect from DNA in a smear of blood left at the scene.

The court heard Scarff was also in breach of a suspended sentence imposed by a Swindon judge in July after he stole his former partner’s Vauxhall Astra, crashed it then later led police on a high-speed chase from Wiltshire to Dorset.

Scarff, of Berryfields Park, Melksham, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to domestic burglary, non-dwelling burglary and possession of a bladed article. Previous convictions for house burglary – the last in 2011 – made him subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of three years as a “third strike” burglar.

Mitigating, Tony Bignall said his client accepted he was “much too old for this”. He had had a difficult upbringing and turned to alcohol and drugs after the death of his father.

He was a hardworker and had run his own construction firm employing two to three people, the lawyer said.

Mr Bignall added: “When I asked him why he committed these offences and how he thought he’d get away with it he simply told me that his head was up his backside.”

Judge Peter Crabtree jailed Scarff for three years for the burglaries and knife possession, adding 15 months on top for the breach of the suspended sentence order.